The U.S. factor sector looks to be balancing itself out following a long and steep decline, but not when it comes to jobs. In the latest job report for April it showed factories added 4,000 new jobs and other measures indicate the sector has stopped falling. This all comes following a three month stretch of job cuts, including March, the worst month for job losses since 2008, that cleared out all of last year’s gains. Manufacturing’s job problem hindered hopeful forecasts that U.S. companies would bring significant numbers of jobs back from overseas. That’s simply not going to happen to a degree sufficient to offset the continuing exodus of work and endorse deeper problems roiling factory floors.
The fallout is most seen on the U.S. campaign trail, where candidates like Donald Trump has piggybacked the wave of unhappy people about job loss to someone the presumptive nominee for the Republican party. Though, interviews with more than dozen company executives and analysts across America show the dilemma of manufacturing is more than just a campaign saying. “People are hanging on by their fingernails in manufacturing,” quoted J.B. Brown, president of Bremen Castings Inc., which saw business for its metal casting decline steeply in 2015 and is now down 40 percent from 2014. Next, the pause in oil and gas has circulated deep into the economy and large cuts by heavy equipment and farm machinery manufacturers are hurting thousands of smaller suppliers across the industry. “Companies are becoming more reluctant to expand and more cost conscious, so that cutback in hiring is a reflection of that,” said Williamson. By his estimate, U.S. factories are now cutting an average of 10,000 jobs a month, and he sees that continuing.